Wordpress themes: Free vs Premium

12 Replies

Are there any IT people out there who can tell me if there really is a difference between free and premium WordPress themes?  I am looking for real estate themes, and i have found several free ones and a lot of premium ones.  I have read a few articles that mentioned premium themes are the way to go, but the arguments didn't seem too compelling to me (besides maybe the technical support that comes with paid themes), and they also seemed to be a year or two old.  Not sure if this was before free real estate themes were available, as I am fairly new to WordPress. Does anyone have any insight as to whether a premium real estate theme would be more beneficial than a free one?  As far as i can tell, I am just looking for perks that both free and premium seem to offer (color and layout editing, option for slider, unlimited pages, blogging capability, videos, pixs, etc). Thank you.

Essentially everything you want would come with a free theme. If there are added features that you want, you can often just use a plugin. Premium themes come with more features, but it's nothing you couldn't create on your own. There are also a lot of free plugins, that can add those features for you. There are a lot of great free themes out there that are not real estate ones, it's just finding the one that's right for you. 

Creating pages, can be more difficult. I suggest getting a page layout builder plugin to help center content or create columns. 

WordPress is also thought of as a community of people with a lot of support forums. Any problem you have can be answered by someone quickly. 

I have become incredibly well educated in WordPress, themes, plugins, and coding the last few months, so if you have any questions, I can answer them for you. 



There is not necessarily anything that makes a theme a premium theme other than the creator of the theme decided to charge for it and call it premium.  As you will see there are varying levels of design and functional features in each theme.  If you do have to customize a premium theme down the road there can potentially be some issues.  But like Lexie said is seems like a free theme will cover your needs.

Thank you both of you.  That is what it seemed like from the little bit of research that i have done, but just wanted to confirm with people who have more experience than I do.  I appreciate your feedback.

@Cornelius Charles  

Hi, I have about 15 years of web design experience. I use Wordpress too. Two things to keep in mind is to check the responsiveness (ability to view on mobile devices) and check that the theme follows Wordpess standards before you purchase a theme. There are tons of themes free and for sale that developers made that do not follow Wordpress standards. By checking these two things, you will save yourself potential headaches with trying to get certain widgets, apps, etc. to work with your theme. Sometimes adding these don't work; it has to do with theme. If you're not adding the extras to your theme, then a free theme should suffice.

One of my favorite Wordpress theme sites is www.magazine3.com

If you want to hire someone, check out www.elance.com

I have been doing web design for sometime and like many, and Wordpress isn't a bad one,. Going with a premium theme isn't really necessary. Many if the free ones are fully functioning. You may sometimes need to get a little creative.

Also consider other open source options such as joomla. I have used joomla on many occasions and enjoyed the versatility much so. Sometimes, your web hosting company offers many plugin web design portals in the membership. 

Good luck!

Some of the premium themes offer features that you can't find for free. These can make editing, posting, and modifying your site much easier. As @Bryan Elkus  said, sometimes they don't have any extra features and developer decided to get paid for his work (and why not?). Often, by adding plugins, you can get most of the features available in the premium themes, but you'll have to work a bit yourself.

If you are comfortable digging into the details, you can use free themes and have a great looking site. If you don't have technical skills, it may be worth paying a bit to make things easier (these things aren't that expensive anyway).

I have never used a premium theme for a site. I generally like to use the most popular, flexible, free themes available. You can make a cool, custom site just using "Twenty-Fourteen" and some custom photos/graphics.

the main reason I went with a premium them is because I needed a fully functioning IDX feed, and none of the free themes looked the way I wanted and allowed for the IDX integration the way I wanted it. The theme was cheap... $85 maybe?

Account Closed I'm gonna second her comment, definitely look into responsiveness of themes.

You can get by with a free theme but from my experience the premium are usually much better out of the box. I'm not sure how savvy you are with web development/ wordpress but typically the premium are good to go when you get them and you can just decide how you want it customized. The free ones may require more know-how to get it the way you want. 

Wordpress themes typically aren't expensive either. If you find a good premium theme you like, $50-$120 isn't a lot to invest in your business.

I ended up purchasing a real estate focused premium theme. It has all the bells and whistles I think I will eventually need, but I couldn't figure out how to customize the homepage the way I wanted. It also has a lot of features geared towards realtors that we are not able to utilize until my fiance gets her license. So for the time being, I am going with one of the free themes that was recommended by a colleague. I was able to find enough plugins for the site to have all of the features that I want/need, for now. Time will tell if I eventually go back to the real estate theme, or if I’m able to continue using the free theme as my business grows. Again, thank you everyone for the feedback.

The free version of wordpress is OK but if you want to do nothing but self promote you are going to have problems. Wordpress will revoke your account and will not allow you to publish on it. I try telling my lawyer clients this and it goes in one ear and out the other.

Your best option is the use the Wordpress software that comes in a Cpanel hosting account. After you install it into your website the sky is the limit. You can self promote all day long and not have to worry about how many times you talk about your company.

Thanks for the reply Ted.  I'm not a programmer, so I'm not sure I understand your response fully.  What do you mean by self promote, because the whole existence of my website is to promote my business.  But to clarify, I am using WordPress hosted by GoDaddy.  I realize that this may not be the best solution, espeically when our business outgrows the IT work i can handle on my own, but it seems to be working fine in the mean time.

Cornelius you got the right one.

The free Wordpress sites off of Wordpress.com won't let you post about one business exclusively. They are really picky about that for some reason.

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